The golfer used a three wood for every shot. At the tee (par five or three) he would pull out his prized club. His next shots always required that same three-wood. When he got to the green, he reached for his putter to finish the job.
One day his coach asked about his unusual style of play, “Do you always use the three-wood?
“I do,” said the golfer.
“Really? Well, how do you use the same club from 50 yards out that you do from 250 yards out?”
“Oh, that’s easy. I just hit it harder when I want it to go farther,” the golfer said matter-of-factly.
It wasn’t a stunt. It was just the way he’d learned to play. Playing the whole round using only two clubs is unconventional, but there was no denying the results. As a freshman, he made varsity.
I’m sure you’ve heard of this person even if you’ve never heard this story. It wasn’t Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus, or Scottie Scheffler. That golfer was me! And would you believe, once I learned how to use the other clubs golf got a lot easier?!
When it comes to errors rookies make, golf isn’t that far from disciple making. Rookies miss things masters don’t. This is the fourth article in the rookie mistakes series. The first one was “driven by fear,” the second was “no invitation,” and the third was “lack of prayer.” Today it’s time to look at the Hammer Problem.
The Hammer Problem is the mistake of applying one solution to every situation. It’s best expressed in the old adage, “If you only have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.”
Inexperienced disciple makers are as susceptible to this as anyone, because their newness blinds them to nuance.
For disciple makers, the problem isn’t one club; instead, it’s the belief in a one-size-fits-all approach to disciple making. Starting with a brand-new Christian? Do this. Working with an older woman who’s been in the church since she was a kid? Do the same thing. Discipling a middle-aged man who struggles with alcohol? Yep, reach for the same tried and true approach you always do.
Rather than a club, the same thing for a disciple maker can mean the same curriculum, the same context, the same tool, or both. The Hammer Problem is so prevalent in Western disciple making that most have never considered anything different. It’s the result of living in a systems-culture where you were trained to do something, not to become something. The result is we have disciple makers who act like a widget instead of as a unique individual. God has called you to do specific work.
Disciple makers can only escape this mistake by realizing that their way of making a disciple is not always the best fit for every disciple. Until then, the Hammer Problem will cause two big problems.
1. Hammer Disciple Makers Produce Hammer Disciples
Disciple makers who disciple every person the same way miss the relational heart of disciple making by acting as if design is unimportant. A skilled disciple maker is called to build into the life of each person. Each one has a different personality, set of experiences, interests, gifts, and problems. When design is minimized disciples who can’t get with the program are blamed instead of pursued, understood, and developed. Many would-be disciple makers never make it because there’s no room in the plan for the wild, the weird (in great ways!), or those wired up differently.
Those who do make it often act like the masses. This is the result of believing there’s no individual aspect to their call as a disciple maker. When the call on their life is the same as everyone else’s—most are happy to leave it to everyone else. Conversely, disciples who recognize that they have been called to make disciples of specific people in specific ways out of who they are just. act. different.
2. One-Dimensional Disciple Makers
Hammer disciple makers know their way, so they are as equipped as they’ll ever need to be. The result is they stop growing as disciple makers. The stunted development limits their ministry and their maturity. This is a huge problem because our maturity directly correlates to our usefulness (2 Tim. 2:20-21). Their short-sighted contentment is often passed on to those they disciple. In other words, hammer disciple makers shift their focus from repentance and becoming to doing and making others who will go do.
The good news is disciple making rookies can avoid this mistake.
Rookie disciple makers who are trained by a master craftsman have a huge advantage here. They have experienced and seen the difference a disciple maker can make when she has a plan for the individual instead of the herd.
If you haven’t experienced it, then you can safeguard yourself against this mistake by doing three things: first, hold onto your rookie status until you have learned multiple ways to disciple. Such humility allows learning to have priority over knowing. Second, assess and consider each disciple making experience you have. Since insights follow attention, doing so will help you continue to learn and grow. Finally, keep discipling because many experiences will help your brain see broad patterns as well as nuance.
This post originally appeared at: Rookie Mistakes: Hammer Disciple Making — Justin G. Gravitt (justingravitt.com)